Big countries from outside the region are abusing their freedom of navigation rights and causing trouble in the South China Sea, Beijing’s ambassador to Britain said, in a clear jab at Western nations’ recent operations in the disputed waterway.
Speaking in London … Liu Xiaoming said … “Yet to everyone’s confusion, some big countries outside the region did not seem to appreciate the peace and tranquillity in the South China Sea,” he said. “They sent warships and aircraft all the way to the South China Sea to create trouble.”
The freedom of navigation operations conducted by major powers were “a serious infringement of China’s sovereignty”, and “threatened China’s security and put regional peace and stability in jeopardy”, he said.
Liu’s comments came after the British warship HMS Albion sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands, a group of islands controlled by Beijing in the South China Sea on August 31. The Chinese foreign ministry protested against the move and urged Britain to stop its “provocative actions”.
Under US President Donald Trump, Washington has increased its freedom of navigation exercises in the waterway, sending warships close to China-controlled islands. It has also called on other powers to join hands in challenging Beijing’s expansion and territorial claims in the disputed region.
Britain and France announced in June they would send warships to Asia to take part in freedom of navigation exercises.
Also, last week, a Japanese attack submarine and three warships took part in exercises in the South China Sea for the first time suggesting Tokyo’s growing concern over Beijing’s expansion of man-made islands and military assets there.